Tuesday, November 27, 2012

"Rise of the Guardians" Is A Holiday Treat

Last week, Dreamworks premiered its latest animated film, Rise of the Guardians, based on The Guardians of Childhood children's book series by William Joyce.  I've been excited since the studio first announced this one, and it really is a great movie to kick off the holidays.

The movie is clearly aimed at children, emotionally stunted millennials like myself, and the young at heart.  The plot can be boiled down to, "It's The Avengers, but with Santa Claus."  Anyone who is not tickled inside by that concept even just a little bit though either has no soul or did not grow up in the western world where these characters have a level of fame that any Hollywood star would do awful, awful things to attain.  I love superheroes, but I'm reasonably convinced that Santa could take Batman in a fight if he needed to throw down.

The film is a treat visually, and I love how each Guardian has unique look and feel.  My favorite was the mute Sandman, whose look, effects, and overall theme was absolutely breathtaking.  Santa (aka Nicolas St. North) is a close second, mostly because of his awesome gear and surprisingly funny Yeti workforce (the elves just think they do all the work).  The Tooth Fairy looks great and I love the hummingbird motif that they use for her and her adorable fairy helpers.  The Easter Bunny gets an honorable mention because Hugh Jackman gets to use his Australian accent and the artists manages to work in some Wolverine-like sideburns without looking overly ridiculous.  I was less impressed by the design of Pitch Black, the villain.  I get that fear is a simple concept, and therefore the Bogeyman should have a similarly spartan look, but he looks like he's wearing one of Voldemort's old robes from the ephemeral thrift store.  Similarly, Jack Frost has plenty of fun and style, but why does a 300-year old character wear a hoodie the whole time?

For a movie about defending the world, there is a surprisingly little amount of actual fighting, which is kind of a shame because watching St. Nick wield two huge sabers and slice at nightmares in the form of evil stallions made my inner child convulse with delight.  Most of the action seems to be reserved for each character's preferred means of travelling, whether it be flight, teleporting, or travelling through the Easter Bunny's rabbit holes.  The action comes so quickly and frantically that it is sometimes a little jarring, but not so much as to take you out of the moment.

There is a lot to focus on in this movie, and I think that is its biggest weak point.  Each Guardian could carry his or her own movie (much like the actual book series) so the audience just gets a little taste of each character's backstory, motivations, and personality.  With many of Dreamworks' other franchises coming to a close, it would seem that Guardians may be poised to start a new line of movies, hopefully with a bit more character exploration along the way.  I would especially like to see them in some shorts like the ones that usually roll out around the holidays, and this time it won't feel forced like Shrek the Halls because one of the characters this time is freakin' Santa Claus.

No comments:

Post a Comment